What I Wish I knew as a Student Athlete Part 2; How to warm up
Thinking back to my high school football days we worked out a ton. We had practice during the period and then after school, around 3 hours a day. Seems like a long time right? During the season I remember spending less than 5 minutes “warming-up” and then going right into some full speed drills. Seemed like a good idea at the time I mean nobody liked warming up anyway so let’s not waste too much time on it. But if you looked inside the training room before we stepped on the field you would see guys with heating pads on their knees or shoulders and a line of athletes waiting to get their ankles taped. If you played high school sports I’m sure you’ve seen the same. I know for me personally my knee pain could have been mitigated if I just spent an additional 10 minutes mobilizing and stabilizing my ankles and hips before practice.
I have even found the same to be true even at the collegiate level with college football players, they warm up with the same old school methods not focusing on preventative measures that would ensure their long-term health. I guess, the way they see it, if you break they can just find another kid that is willing to do anything just to play the sport they love. I know my alma mater, had a dozen football players miss games due to ACL issues this past year.
Injuries are a part of playing sports I get it. It’s estimated that 200,000 ACL related injuries happen per year in the US. But every physio I talk to says there is a way to minimize your risk and most of them say it starts with a proper warm up and a well-rounded offseason including a strength program.
Dr. Dan Bockman of Austin Spine & Sport stated in one of his articles, “Studies show that increasing muscle temperature with dynamic movement makes muscles more resistant to tearing. Hamstring and calf strains are quite common, and a pre-play warm-up can help prevent these injuries.” Doesn’t it seem like an extra 10 minutes a day is a worth it if it means you have a healthier?
I don’t want you to read this and think High School sports are the devil and no one should ever play. Sports are amazing and a great way for a kids to learn the value of hard work, teamwork, and overcoming adversity. I want kids and parents to know there are others methods to getting stronger and faster while maintaining the overall health of your mind and body.
Here’s a few of my favorites from my warm up protocol I use with a wide range of athletes, from High Schoolers to Olympic Athletes.
Mobility-Soft tissue work is vital if you want your body to recover and respond to the best of its ability. I use foam rollers and lacrosse balls to break up adhesion which helps increase circulation and ROM.
Flexibility– This is a great way to open your hips and counteract the effects that come with sitting down for hours and hours during your day.
Stability– Single leg (SL) RDL and the Rear Leg Elevated (RLE) Squat are great for increasing balance and strength across the entire body. The hip, knee and ankle receive the brunt of the workload while helping your postural awareness as well.
Bonus– Mix it up some days and have some fun stringing together movements. Try out this flow that combines mobility, stability and strength.